Guidelines to help ensure that personal health information is being shared legally and safely by health providers have just been released.

The Ministry of Health has published the Health Information Governance Guidelines to provide guidance to health providers who collect and share personal health information, including electronically.

The guidelines say that currently each district health board, community health provider and IT vendor can have different approaches, which can lead to “duplication, uncertainty and misinterpretation of health information-related policies and legislation”.

The new publication aims to give guidance – both legal and practical – on how to get the right balance between easy access to information and constraints on information sharing.

It states: “Taking an approach which is too conservative in the sharing of information can lead to undesirable outcomes for patients and ongoing inefficiencies in the health system. Conversely, making information too easily accessible risks privacy breaches and a loss of consumer and provider trust.”

The guidelines, which have been developed with the help of contributions from nurse, medical, midwifery and Privacy Commissioner representatives, build on the Privacy Act 1993, the Health Information Privacy Code 1994, and other related legislation.

The four subject areas covered in the guidelines are: maintaining quality and trust; upholding consumer rights and maintaining transparency; appropriate disclosure and sharing; and ensuring security and protection of personal health information.

The guidelines can be downloaded here.




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